Coronavirus relief deal still elusive as Pelosi details outstanding issues

Washington — Despite ongoing discussions with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin over another coronavirus relief package, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday revealed several areas that are still unresolved in talks with the Trump administration, indicating the two sides remain far apart on another measure designed to provide assistance to American families struggling during the coronavirus pandemic. 

In a letter to Mnuchin, who has been leading negotiations for the White House, Pelosi placed the blame for the ongoing stalemate squarely on the Trump administration, arguing Democrats still have not received word on compromise language for a strategic testing, tracing and treatment plan, vaccines, and Obamacare coverage for Americans who are out of work.

“Your responses are critical for our negotiations to continue,” the California Democrat told Mnuchin in the letter dated Thursday. “The president’s words that ‘after the election, we will get the best stimulus package you have ever seen’ only have meaning if he can get Mitch McConnell to take his hand off the pause button and get Senate Republican chairmen moving toward agreement with their House counterparts.”

Pelosi also indicated there is disagreement between Democrats and the White House on six issues: funding for state and local governments; funding for schools; child care; the earned income and child tax credits; unemployment benefits; OSHA and liability.

“[A]s the coronavirus surges and the stock market plummets, we are still awaiting the Trump administration’s promised responses on multiple items of critical importance,” she said.

Pelosi and Mnuchin have been engaged in negotiations over another coronavirus relief measure for weeks, but hopes of a deal passing before the November 3 election have slipped away. Members of the House have been in their home districts for much of October, while the Senate adjourned Monday after voting to confirm Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. The Senate will next convene November 9, while the House will not hold votes until the week of November 16.

Last week, the Senate voted on a tailored $500 billion coronavirus relief measure put forth by Republicans, but the bill was blocked by Senate Democrats, who said it did not do enough. The GOP, meanwhile, accused Democrats of refusing to compromise.

Pelosi and Mnuchin last spoke Monday for 52 minutes, the speaker’s spokesman Drew Hammill said, adding “progress depends on Leader McConnell agreeing to bipartisan, comprehensive legislation to crush the virus, honor our heroes — our essential workers — and put money in the pockets of the American people.”

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